Mobile dials up

By AdNews | 7 June 2016

This first appeared in the AdNews print magazine. You can read it all below but if you want it as soon as it goes to press, you better subscribe here.

When Facebook says mobile is officially ‘it’ you know it means business. Advertisers and clients are being encouraged to upstream mobile and consider it at the outset of planning instead of as a digital afterthought.

Almost half (49%) of married women would rather give up their engagement ring than their smartphone or tablet, according to Exponential head of mobile APAC and SA, Nicole Liebmann: “It’s pretty crazy to think that a piece of technology can hold so much value these days.”

It took radio 38 years to reach its first 50 million users across the globe. TV took 14 years, the internet just four and mobile has done it in two. There are more than two billion smartphones worldwide. And Australians are obsessed. Although more people own computers (18 million) than smartphones (13.2 million), people spent on average more time browsing their phones (28 hours each month) than desktops (24 hours), according to Nielsen’s latest digital ratings.

“We are experiencing the fastest, most seismic shift we have experienced in our life–time. The world has been going mobile and I would say officially it is mobile now,”

Facebook’s head of global business marketing, Sarah Personette told AdNews on a whistlestop tour of Australia, pointing out that globally the next billion people who come online will do so via mobile rather than desktop.

Although more and more Australians are switching onto their smartphones, advertisers lag behind, with many still viewing mobile as a digital afterthought.

Peter Birch, the managing director of mobile advertising firm, 1st Screen, estimates that although more digital revenue is being placed into mobile it is often only between 5% to 25% of digital budgets.

“I would suggest there’s a significant gap between time spent and the amount of money being apportioned to mobile,” Birch said.

His firm recently rebranded from 4th Screen Advertising to reflect the increasing importance of mobile — a medium he estimates people check at least 70 times each day. Other estimates have the figure at well above 150.

“We felt it was time advertisers should be placing mobile upstream a bit more and considering it at the outset whilst planning the overall strategy rather than simply waiting until they’ve spent their money on TV, radio, outdoor and online and attributing a small percentage to mobile,” he explained.

Birch noted in the past year the number of mobile briefs his firm received had doubled, matched by the amount of budget being set aside. While some advertisers “don’t get mobile”, according to Liebmann, there are promising signs the tide is turning.

GroupM head of mobile in Australia, Venessa Hunt, told AdNews she had also noticed a shift on the dial.

“Whilst we still have a way to go in shifting mindset, the last 12 months we have come forwards in leaps and bounds and anyone who is still planning mobile at the end of a carved out digital brief will be left behind,” she said.

Mobile advertising has many benefits that other formats don’t. First and foremost it provides a core connection point that can bring a lot of mediums together.

“It’s not about mobile taking away from TVCs, it’s more how mobile can bring TVCs to life. It’s also about providing access to consumers 24/7, not just targeting users on the go – 70% of mobile usage is in the home,” Liebmann said.

It is also much easier to target campaigns to specific individuals and groups, which Birch said adds great value to mobile campaigns.

“Many advertisers are happy to pay increased CPMs because they are reaching their consumer and target audience more efficiently as the mobile marketplace matures, develops and improves. It reduces wastage,” he revealed.

Mobile empowers advertisers to better monitor campaign success by tracking the user journey from touchpoint to sale. This adds a layer of accountability that other mediums cannot provide, Hunt said.

Then there are the unique engagement opportunities the device offers, like touch, tilt, turn, tap, hold, pinch etc.

“Harnessing these in the correct way can tap into the exploration and curiosity of a user or customer. Personalisation is probably the second biggest feature that isn’t utilised enough,” Hunt said.

“In Australia, we have focused on geo– location (often too much) and forgot about other information we can use to give a more personal experience — such as weather, time, shopping habits, consumption habits.

“We are at a time where dynamic creative is still used for novelty, not as the norm.”

Experts agree that creative is one area that has held mobile advertising back.

mobileGoing mobile

It may be hard to believe but the Apple iPhone will turn 10 next year. It marks a decade since advertisers have been able to live in consumers’ pockets.

While the creative potential of mobile devices is staggering, the execution is of ten less so. Big Mobile CEO, Graham Christie, said “generally, there is a lack of creativity being delivered in mobile and if it becomes a habit it becomes a problem”.

The issue comes from the top, he said, noting there is “ far to much hesitancy from too many marketer s reluctant to go down roads less travelled”.

Of ten though, the blame for some of the less than appealing creative on mobile comes down to the ad format s available.

Playground XYZ CEO, Rob Halls, said addressing this need was the catalyst for creating his company, which is a mobile creative ad tech company.

“There are a lot of mobile strategies based around things like building an app or having a mobile site experience or even banners which expand, but the economics of that whole line of thinking are wrong,” he said.

“The problem is so few people will click on that thing to get through to the creative idea, and the cool stuf f is buried behind the click, not in front of it.

“The format is the vehicle in which you put your creative and we found the format has the greatest bearing on success or failure of the campaign. For creatives, you can only be as good a s the tools you’re given.”

Similarly, Big Mobile launched Creative Impact this year to address the premise that “mobile media has become saturated with sameness”.

It’s a three-pillar program designed to enhance creative, which includes new rich media formats, bet ter analy tics and the addition of a mobile-first UX and design team, Big Mobile Studios.

The ABCs of mobile

Advertising in mobile requires a different mindset to traditional media. GroupM’s Venessa Hunt said it’s a matter of learning the ABCs of mobile.

Hunt said in most other forms of advertising, there is a tendency to focus on the A, but in mobile the B and C are far more important considerations.

“This is how you unlock a user’s attention in a very personal and yet cluttered environment,” she revealed.

Intimacy issues

“As a marketer you need to program for a discovery-based world,” Personette said.

“Another thing you need to be mindful of is how personal and intimate this device is. As a marketer, you need to respect that experience.

“Making sure you are delivering highly personalised, relevant content or creative that meets the needs of a particular user is extremely important.”

What is clear is the benefits of mobile far outweigh any disadvantages and the medium is highly complementary to all forms of offline media. The future, according to Hunt, is in creative immersion.

“Before, we used to talk to a consumer in a one-way conversation, but through technology and the rise of social and content marketing this became a two-way conversation where people had the ability to interact with a brand,” she explained.

“The new focus will be on giving the opportunity to put the consumer ‘inside’ a brand experience and allow them to explore and be part of the brand.”

That’s surely music to any marketer’s ears.

All aboard the bot train

Everyday about 257 billion messages are sent through apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Viber and WeChat.

Facebook’s recent announcement that it was putting bots in Messenger, allowing brands to communicate directly with consumers through the app, is yet another development ensuring marketers are seeing messaging apps as the next mobile marketing channel.

But, are brands set to jump in head-first to this new environment and end up doing more damage than good? Facebook’s announcement saw the much speculated bot offering roll out in beta, opening the door to possibilities forconsumers to receive receipts, order Ubers and track flights, but can brands seamlessly enter a consumer-to-consumer ecosystem? It has been done before through social media channels, but many will argue that could have been more successfully done, especially as they first entered the space.

LivePerson regional vice president for APAC, Steve Fitzjohn, explained that mobile messaging bots can change how brands interact with their consumers for the better, however the systems needed for flawless conversations take hard work to build.

“If you think of a bot as a small child, you still have to teach a bot how to do things,” he said. “It’s got a brain, which is effectively a knowledge base of questions and answers; you’ve got to educate it over a period of time. If you release a bot into the marketplace and it’s not very educated, you’re going to give a lot of people bad experiences.”

Fitzjohn explained the success of a bot comes down to how much effort is spent by the brand on educating it and he speculated that a lot of brands may initially view this technology as a great idea, but many may not invest properly in the ongoing attention the technology needs.

“It’s not just like you press a button and it works,” he said. “It’s an evolution of the capability of the bot; you do need to consistently optimise the bot for it to get better and better. It’s not a piece of technology you can put in place and set and forget. It does require a lot of ongoing work.”

Nestle's mobile journey

Nestlé Australia head of media and brand experience, Antonia Farquhar, told AdNews about the company’s journey into mobile and why it has become such an important advertising channel.

“Mobile is an essential part of our marketing mix and it is always being considered. If you think back to three to five years ago, that definitely wasn’t the case, but now it’s front and centre.

“We’ve come a long way creatively from when tiny banners were the only options to now, where we have formats that are much more interesting like video or [Facebook’s] canvas app.

“Our mobile budget has grown dramatically from pretty much zero in a few years. It sits in our digital budget and probably ends up being about 50% to 60%.

“When we’re having creative meetings we always ask ‘how would that look on my phone’ rather than looking at ideas on Powerpoint screens. We also try to avoid being obstructive or annoying because it is such a personal device.

“We also try to make sure we are timing it when people are most receptive to seeing a message – is it on the way to work, when they first wake up or on their way home – they are all considerations.

“Mobile is a great extender of a campaign and we make sure it links with other channels – things like the opportunity with out of home is a key one for us.”


Spotify sounds out Snapchat

Spotify has been using Snapchat to push its music sponsorships around music festivals including Falls Festival and Groovin The Moo.

Spotify Australia and New Zealand head of communications, Sophie Paterson, said the key to making creative click on Snapchat is to be true to the integrity of the platform.

“The freedom Snapchat allows us is exactly what appealed to me in the first place,” she said.

“That is, the unpolished, in the moment look and feel that allows us to show off our unique Spotify personality; something I believe really sets us apart from our competitors.”

“People aren’t expecting high-res, edited, beautifully polished pics and video, it’s about emojis, handwriting, drawings and filters.

“Personality and point of difference is also key, that is, including Spotify staff, showing people behind the scenes of the office, taking fans backstage at a concert and doing artist takeovers.”

Have something to say on this? Share your views in the comments section below. Or if you have a news story or tip-off, drop us a line at

Sign up to the AdNews newsletter, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for breaking stories and campaigns throughout the day.

comments powered by Disqus